Online Secondary Education Degree Programs

An online secondary education program is a fast track to becoming a certified teacher.

Graduate secondary education programs are designed to help non-teachers enter the profession - by preparing them to apply for teacher certification - or to provide current teachers with opportunities to advance their career, carry out independent educational research or prepare for leadership roles in secondary schools.

Secondary education encompasses both middle school (grades 6 through 8) and high school (grades 9-12). If you obtain your state teaching certification, you will be qualified to teach in both types of schools. Teachers generally focus on one subject area, such as mathematics, science, foreign language, language arts, or on other topics such as multiculturalism, middle school instruction, adolescent values or the arts.

Working in public or private schools, secondary teachers educate students in a variety of academic subjects, as well as provide them with real-world skills needed to survive after graduation. In addition to providing classroom instruction, teachers must also prepare lesson plans, grade papers, communicate with parents, as well as participate in many extra-curricular school activities.

Programs that you can pursue

  • If you already have a bachelor’s degree in a non-teaching subject area, there are several convenient and flexible online pathways to teacher certification.
  • An online teacher certification program is the fastest way to earn your teaching license. You take only the courses required to obtain a teaching license, without having to leave your current position.
  • Depending upon the type of program, teacher certification courses can be at the undergraduate or graduate level, and may also lead to a certificate. Some schools may also allow you to apply these courses to a later degree program.
  • To ensure that you receive a quality education, look for a school or program that is accredited by a regional association, or a national one, such as the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
  • Most online secondary education degree programs involve three areas of study: effective teaching practices, foundations of teaching and teaching experience. Graduate programs may also include research methods and greater emphasis on student assessment.

Featured Colleges offering Online Secondary Education Degrees & Programs

Grand Canyon University

  • Bachelors in Secondary Education: English
  • Bachelors in Secondary Education: Math
  • Bachelors in Secondary Education: Business Education
  • M.Ed. in Secondary Education (Does not lead to initial teacher licensure)
  • M.Ed. in Secondary Education (Leads to initial teacher licensure)
  • M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction: Reading - Secondary Education (Does not lead to initial teacher licensure)

University of Phoenix

  • M.A. in Education/Secondary Teacher Education
  • M.A. in Education/Teacher Education Secondary License
  • M.A. in Education/Teacher Education Secondary Mathematics
  • M.A. in Education/Teacher Education Secondary Science
  • Transition to Teaching Certificate/Secondary Teacher Education

Argosy University

  • Higher and Postsecondary Education (M.A.Ed)
  • Doctorate in Education(Ed.D) - Higher and Post-Secondary Education

Before you can earn a secondary education program online

If you are applying for an online teaching certification program, you will need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. You will also need a significant background in your subject area, such as science, English or history. You may be required to take additional subject area courses to meet the requirements for state licensure, in addition to the education courses. If you are a current teacher and pursuing a graduate level program, you will need to have a bachelor’s degree, teaching certification, as well as classroom experience.

In order to obtain your teaching license, you will need to complete an approved field experience, such as classroom observations, student teaching or a practicum. U.S. States may accept licenses from other states, but not always. This hands-on experience can't be completed online. Most accredited teacher preparation programs, including the online ones, will arrange this practical experience for you. Each state has specific requirements for obtaining your teaching licenses, also known as certification. You should check those carefully for the state in which you intend to teach before you select a program.

Some states may have an alternate pathway to certification, which allows you to begin teaching immediately under the supervision of an experienced teacher, while you complete the coursework for your secondary education degree online. Schools may also offer accelerated programs that enable you to be eligible to apply for teacher certification after only four semesters and a hands-on practicum.

Career outlook

In the fall of 2011, 14.5 million students attended public high schools, with additional students in private and middle schools. Secondary education teachers are essential for the proper education of students as they progress toward adulthood.

In spite of the large numbers of students, the job outlook for middle school teachers is about average, with slower than average growth for high school teachers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment varies by region, with many urban and rural areas having greater demand for teachers. The average annual salary for both middle and high school teachers is just over $50,000. Many school districts offer salary increases for additional education, as well as for certification in high demand subject areas.

If you obtain a graduate secondary education degree, your career options will vary depending upon your area of focus. Some graduate degrees prepare you for positions as administrators, such as school principals. The job growth for principals is about average, although the average salary is around $80,000 per year.

Related degrees

Teaching, Education, or Instruction: Schools call their education programs by different names, although the curriculum is similar to the secondary education degree programs. Degrees are often offered in teaching, education, or instruction, with an emphasis or specialization in secondary education.

Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment: This type of degree is generally at the graduate level and is designed to develop leaders and researchers in the education field. You can choose to specialize from several areas, including secondary education, technology, and administration.

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